The SANMA Creative Industry Community Company (SCICC) is weaving a true growth story.
Since its establishment in 2018 as Vanuatu’s first-ever community company, it has expanded its producer reach across SANMA province, is selling its products to domestic and international markets, and is now transforming production efficiency with the ‘Fren Blo Wiva’, a new cutting tool that is the first of its kind in the industry.
For Janet Sine, SCICC Acting Manager, the use of the ‘Fren Blo Wiva’ has dramatically increased weaver output and shifted mindsets towards formal economy trading.
“The mamas have come a long way. We have refined many production steps and we are proud that these new developments are a sign that we are transitioning into the formal economy,” Mrs. Sine said.
Previously, weavers would use bush wild-canes or knives to cut single pandanus weaving strips. With the newly introduced tool, their work is easier and faster; the ‘Fren Blo Wiva’ cuts multiple even strips with a single stroke, increasing the speed of their fibre preparation work, making it five times more rapid than conventional practice.
The SCICC is made up of three associations, the Malo Island Bosahe Sector One Women’s Handicraft Association, the Limabulu Headwear Association, and the Yumitu Craft Association. The company produces and sells handicraft products ranging from head wear to clothing and textiles.
Mrs. Elsie Dick, President of the Bosahe Association, said the income generated from the sales of their products has helped them to survive during the pandemic, allowing them to meet school fees and other family expenses. She added that the handicraft business has become a main source of income for the women in her community, given that resources like pandanus and other local materials are readily available on the island.
Last week Mrs. Sine was in Port Vila to sell SCICC products during the ‘Vanuatu Made Market’ event. She said attending big events such as this was not only about selling products but also an opportunity to discuss business management with other handicraft operators. Most important was to build connections with potential clients, and to hear their feedback on ways to improve products pitched to international markets.
With the support of the Vanuatu Skills Partnership’s international coach, Sydney hatmaker Rosie Boylan, SCICC producers are continuing to refine their skills and expertise to meet international market standards and have now established relationships with companies in Australia and New Zealand.
The ‘Fren Blo Wiva’ has been critical in enabling this transition to formal production. It has now been commercially developed by the SCICC and is available for sale to all weavers of hats, bags and mats across Vanuatu. The product has been registered with the Vanuatu Intellectual Property Office and is protected as a SCICC product.
The SCICC is supported by the Vanuatu Skills Partnership, which is a joint initiative between the Governments of Vanuatu and Australia.